Promoting Sustainability

"Our processes promote sustainability. Educators, students, and families should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely."

If we're truly going to reform education, we have to accomplish two things: teaching has to be easier for teachers and learning has to be better for kids.

Right now, a small number of charter schools seem to be getting good results. But isn't clear if those results are built on sustainable models. Kids and teachers work long hours in these schools; those who don't, don't stick around. Few of the teachers I have known in these places have lasted more than five years. And while I think the children are well-served, I think they are served inefficiently and that this is why their days and years have to be so long.

We can increase the pace of progress with more efficient processes—like Agile processes. But cranking up the machine and pushing it as hard as it will go is a prescription for pushing people out.

We have to work as hard as we can, but no harder. We have to move as quickly as we can, but no quicker. Education is a long haul for kids, and a career in education is a long haul for teachers. The best strategy for a long haul is sustainability.

One of the easiest ways to make school more sustainable for everyone—including the taxpayer—is to identify things that don't contribute to better teaching and learning and stop doing them, or choose to do them in a much more efficient way.

Some things we take for granted in school turn out to have little or no value for teachers or kids. These things are well-known and easily addressed. Changing them, or getting rid of them altogether, makes the challenge of teaching and learning a more sustainable enterprise for everyone.


Add your feedback below. To keep track of who is saying what, use an H1 tag (a plus sign "+" in the edit window) to identify yourself. For example:

Steve Peha

In general, I see teachers and children moving far too slow—even though their teachers are working harder than ever under the new structures of reform.

For teachers, the issue is two-fold: poor pacing and inefficient teaching practices. For kids, I see three problems: lack of challenge, lack of interest, and a range of work to do that doesn't advance their skills.

Clearly, we can go a lot faster in most classrooms. And we should—by making smarter choices about how we spend ourselves. But we shouldn't do it simply by speeding up or working harder at the same old things we've been using all along. There are simple ways to increase progress without increasing time, effort, and energy

Sustainability, at optimal levels of progress, is a matter of working smarter, not harder.

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